The number of students requiring special education in America is rising over the years. From the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year, that number went up from 6.6 to 6.7 million students.
The problem is that many school districts only cater to certain special education needs. Alternatively, they may provide a cookie-cutter system for every student requiring extra help. This can be incredibly limiting or detrimental to your child’s education.
Do you feel that your child is being left behind by your school district’s limited special education program? You may benefit from working with a special education attorney.
Read on to learn more about your child’s rights to special education and when to ask for legal aid.
IEP and 504: Your Child’s Right to a Quality Education
Before we talk about special education attorneys, let’s take a look at what your child is entitled to. These rights fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
IDEA established the IEP. This guarantees some children access to individualized special education and any related services. IDEA specifies 13 specific, qualifying disabilities including learning disorders such as dyslexia and other impairments such as autism.
An IEP is a sort of educational map outlining a child’s specific educational program. It can include instructors, additional educational programs such as autism therapy, and tools to ensure that your child receives a quality education.
A 504 includes a broader definition of disabilities. Many kids who don’t qualify for an IEP are still entitled to a 504.
A 504 is a plan that enables children with different disabilities to remain in their general education courses. The resources provided should keep them from struggling or falling behind.
Note that both an IEP and a 504 should never involve a financial burden falling on the parents.
When Is It Time to Hire a Special Education Attorney?
Some school districts do not offer special education without testimony from experts that your child requires it. The tricky part is that some school districts will recommend related experts and help cover the costs while others will not. More difficult are the school districts that will not help but will also not accept the testimony you do acquire on your own.
In other cases, the school district may recognize your child’s right to an IEP or 504. However, they may fail to offer tools and resources that truly address your child’s needs.
For example, some school districts attempt to place all students with special needs in special education classrooms even if they may benefit from remaining in their general education courses. Alternatively, some schools may want to keep a student in their general education courses when this is not the most effective plan for them.
So, when should you hire a special education attorney?
Do you feel that your school district is failing to meet your child’s special education needs? Have you attempted to address this issue on your own to no avail? It is time to bring in an attorney.
How Can Special Education Attorneys Help?
Many school districts get away with failing to meet IDEA or Section 504 because parents don’t know the in’s and out’s of these laws. They take advantage of the legal jargon that can make these laws difficult to understand.
In many cases, bringing an attorney to your meetings with the school district can give them the jolt they need to provide your child with the education they deserve. After all, they don’t want to be taken to court.
However, this is not always the case. If the school district won’t budge on their own, the next step is to file for due process. Doing so without an attorney will greatly lower your odds of winning your case simply because the process is complex and requires expertise.
Find out more about what special education attorneys do and how they can help you assert your child’s rights.
Why Not Hire a Special Education Advocate?
Parents in situations like yours often ask about special education advocates, in part because this can seem like a more affordable route.
The problem with hiring a special education advocate is that they can only help you through the initial consultations with the school. They do possess a great deal of knowledge on the subject, but they lack the credentials to take your case to court. In the event that you do have to file for due process, you’ll find yourself writing checks to both your advocate and an attorney.
Plus, working with an attorney from the start will strengthen your case. A special education attorney will observe and document each step of the process from the moment you enter into consultation. That means that they won’t have to play catch-up or track down information your advocate forgot to record.
In other words, while special education advocates do possess much of the know-how, they don’t bring as much value to the table. The school district will likely recognize this from the start, which means your odds of winning your battle before entering a courtroom may go down if you’re working with an advocate. An attorney, on the other hand, can help you every step of the way.
Your Attorney Knows Your Child’s Rights
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not easy to stay on top of the many in’s and out’s of special education law. When you hire a special education attorney, they know all of the details so that you don’t have to.
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